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Volume 35: Number 84

Sun, 18 Jun 2017

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: via Avodah
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2017 15:45:13 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Jewish optimism [was: Shelach]


From: Micha Berger via Avodah  <avo...@lists.aishdas.org>
: Judaism's preference of the  optimist over the pessimist is made clear
: not only by what the Torah has to  say on the subject of the spies
: but even more so by the first remark  attributed to the Creator upon
: His completion of the work of creation. "And  God saw all the He made,
: and behold it was very good..." (Gen. 1:31).   [--Cantor Wolberg]

RMB wrote:  >> ...But in any case, the  spies are an imperfect example, 
because they had
G-d's promise that this  specific mission would succeed.

We don't have such reason to be  optimistic....

....Similarly, if someone wants to argue that the Torah wants us to  be
optimistic, don't we have to address what the Torah would tell a  Jew
living in Lodz in 1939? <<

Micha  Berger             

I once heard a powerful and inspiring talk given by R' Joseph Friedenson  
a'h.  He had survived a number of different concentration camps in hellish  
circumstances, and had lost all or most of his family.  He said in his talk  
that the last time he ever saw his father, his father said, "I don't know if 
you  and I will survive this war, but no matter what happens, remember  
this:  Klal Yisrael will survive!"  
R' Friedenson said that he never saw his father again but he went through  
the war with an unshakeable optimism.  That's what he called it,  optimism.  
He underwent horrendous suffering, but nevertheless he had a  firm 
conviction that the Nazis would ultimately fail.  He  always held onto his father's 
words, "Klal Yisrael will survive."

--Toby  Katz


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Message: 2
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2017 16:25:43 -0400
[Avodah] Shoah

R? Micha wrote in regard to the Shelach posting:

Similarly, if someone wants to argue that the Torah wants us to be
optimistic, don't we have to address what the Torah would tell a Jew
living in Lodz in 1939?

Along the same lines there was a fascinating book written many years
ago by a legitimate, authentic, respected orthodox rabbi who wrote that
someone who was not a victim in the holocaust has no right to say there
is no God. Here is what was really an astonishing and somewhat shocking
statement he made: if someone was actually in the Concentration Camp, this
person has the right to deny God. 

I can see many raised eyebrows, but I would greatly appreciate someone 
remembering this book. Since it was rather revolutionary to be coming from a
musmach who is respected by other orthodox rabbis.
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Message: 3
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2017 18:39:03 -0400
[Avodah] Support for Maaseh Satan

In some, more Zionist, circles, the Satmar Rebbe's position that Israel
is a maaseh satan is often left not understood. Many of the RZ camp have
summarily dismissed it as overly polytheist for their liking.

However, it is possible -- even if I or you do not find it plausible --
that Zionism was a challenge to the Jewish People. To see if after the
Holocaust we would be so desperate for political relief that we would
stop working toward true ge'ulah. As per the title of the SR's response
to the mood after the Six Day War -- Al haGe'ulah ve'Al haTemurah (About
the Ge'uilah and about the Replacement; perhaps "Decoy").

And, there is a particular mal'akh charged with posing spiritual challenges
for us to grow through overcoming -- the satan. Thus, such a temurah
would be a maaseh satan.

Pretty conventional metaphysics, even for those who find the other
religious positions bothersome.

I mentioned this because of R' Gidon Rothstein's latest column
in TM on the Ramban.
"Ramban to Re'eh, Week Two: Avoiding False Prophets, Hearing From Hashem"

Along the way, RGR writes:

   It Might Actually Be From Hashem

   In the last verse in this passage, Moshe warns that this false prophet
   is a nisayon, a test, from Hashem. Ramban points out that back
   inBereshit, he had already dealt with the question of why Hashem
   "tests" us (doesn't Hashem know the future, and therefore know the
   outcome of the test? There are many answers, this is Ramban's). It's
   only a test from our perspective, he said. Hashem indeed knows the
   outcome, and is engaging in it to bring our potential into actuality
   (that implies that everyone always passes these tests, which works
   well for figures like Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov. It seems to me
   less convincing about the nisayon here, since the Jewish people have
   in fact occasionally followed such false prophets).

   Still, that's the less surprising part of this Ramban, since it is the
   face value of the verse, that the wonder did in fact come through the
   Will of Hashem, Hashem showed him this dream or vision to test our love
   of Hashem.

   Ramban doesn't say more, but I think he means--and this is the part
   that is more surprising and a bit challenging- that all people involved
   must realize that this is not what Hashem wants. I think he means the
   prophet him/herself was supposed to refrain from giving this prophecy
   (the other option is that Hashem was commanding and condemning this
   person to be a false prophet, to forfeit his/her life in doing so, and
   that someone we would put to death as a false prophet is actually a
   hero of Hashem's service. I find that unthinkable, unless the prophet
   said "I had this vision, but you clearly shouldn't listen to because
   we're not allowed to ever worship any power other than Hashem." But
   it's logically possible).

   The prophet aside, anyone who hears that prophecy, even if it's
   supported by uncannily accurate predictions, must both refuse to obey
   and react to this person as a false prophet. That is what true ahavat
   Hashem would lead us to do, a reminder that acting on our love of
   Hashem sometimes means doing that which under other circumstances
   should be distasteful. Putting someone to death for sharing his/her
   vision is not usually conduct we applaud. Here, it would still be
   upsetting, but necessary for those whose love of Hashem fills their

If the Ramban could say that there could be a navi sheqer who gets his
message from Hashem for the sould purpose of challenging us, is it such
a far stretch to the SR's anti-Zionism?

IMHO, it's easier to understand Satmar or Munkacz anti-Zionism than
Agudah's classical position of non-Zionism. The former agrees with the RZ
that the Medinah is a huge event of vast import, but disagree about what
the import is. The Agudist (at least classically, there were exceptions
in the early years of the state, and things seem to be wearing down now)
believe that Jews can regain sovereignty over EY for the first time in
2 millenia without it being religiously significant.

(I am not talking about those of Neturei Karta who protest with the
Palestinians and their supporters, or who visit Iranian gov't officials.
They pose a whole different and perhaps even more fundamental set of
problems. The SR's anti-Zionism included praying for Tzahal, as these
were Jews led to danger through a horrible (in his opinion) error; an
error that exists in part for the purpose of putting Jews in danger.)

Tir'u baTov!


Micha Berger             Good decisions come from experience;
mi...@aishdas.org        Experience comes from bad decisions.
http://www.aishdas.org                - Djoha, from a Sepharadi fable
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 4
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:59:19 -0400
[Avodah] Korach

1) 16:1 "Vayikach Korach...."   "And Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehoth, the son of Levi took, and Dathan and Aviram, the sons of Eliav,etc.?  
The question is what did Korach take?  The verb has no object.	Resh Lakish
said: "He took a bad 'taking' for himself" (Sanhedrin).  Rashi said:
"Korach...separated [lit.,took] himself.
Korach placed himself at odds with the rest of the assembly to protest
against Aaron's assumption of the priesthood."	Ibn Ezra said it meant:
"Korach took men..."  
2) In the Ethics of the Fathers 5, 17 it states: "Every controversy that is
pursued in a heavenly cause, is destined to be perpetuated; and that which
is not pursued in a heavenly cause 
is not destined to be perpetuated. Which can be considered a controversy
pursued in a heavenly cause? This is the controversy of Hillel and Shammai.
And that not pursued in a heavenly cause? 
This is the controversy of Korach and his congregation."  An analysis of
this by Malbim explains in quite a compelling fashion why the Mishnah was
not worded as we would have expected it to be: 
"A controversy pursued in a heavenly cause...that is the controversy of
Hillel and Shammai. That not pursued in a heavenly cause is the controversy
of Korach and Moses."  Instead it reads: 
"Korach and his congregation." As Malbim explains-- they would be
quarreling amongst themselves, as each one strove to attain his selfish
ambitions. The controversy therefore was rightly termed 
"between Korach and his congregation."  They would ultimately fight among themselves. And the denouement would be their self-destruction.  
3) "Korach quarreled with peace, and he who quarrels with peace quarrels
with the Holy Name."  (Zohar, Korach 176a [ed.,Soncino], Vol. V, p.238).
The bottom line here is "Don't Mess with Hashem."

In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.
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